St. Valentine Catholic Church planning 50th anniversary celebration
The parishioners at St. Valentine Catholic Church in Bethel Park seem to have taken the idea of planning ahead to heart.
They started early and put together a whole series of events to celebrate the church’s 50th anniversary throughout 2017.
“We started planning back in November because we wanted to hit the ground running to let parishioners know what is on the agenda,” said Laura Ashworth, member of the 50th Anniversary Committee.
The year’s events kick off Feb. 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. with Family Bingo Games in Frawley Hall. Admission is free, but game cards are $1 each. Geared to the entire family, the event will feature a snack bar, tattoos and balloon art as well as candy prizes for the children and small prize items for adults.
Members of the anniversary committee include the Rev. Victor Molka; Natalie O’Loughlin, pastoral associate; Judy Mills, head of St. Valentine’s Preschool; Thom Mills, deacon; and Lora Mastracci, Mary Ann DiMuzio and Ashworth.
Another February event is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 12, World Marriage Day, and will feature a Mass during which all the couples who were married over the last 50 years will be honored, blessed and given a keepsake. A coffee and donut reception will follow immediately after the Mass.
At the reception, “now and then” photos of the couples will be on display as well as written or videotaped stories of the couples and other submitted photos. The stories can be uploaded to the church’s Facebook page or emailed to Daniel Kovacic, minister of music, at email@example.com for uploading to Facebook.
At the 10:30 a.m. Mass April 23, the church will have a Baptism celebration of all those parishioners baptized at the church over the last 50 years. Another 10:30 a.m. Mass on June 10 will honor all those who attended the church school or preschool.
An as yet-to-be-determined anniversary event will be included in the church’s annual parish festival scheduled from Aug. 2 to 5. The anniversary year will close out Nov. 19 with a Mass officiated by Bishop David Zubic, followed by a spaghetti dinner in Frawley Hall.
“I want to highlight the anniversary musically somehow in a concert this year as part of our annual concert series,” Kovacic said.
To keep parishioners informed about upcoming anniversary events, Ashworth plans to mail out ‘save the date postcards,’ and the planning committee is also thinking of putting together a video that highlights all of this year’s events.
Although St. Valentine is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its dedication, its roots go back much farther to July 1925 when the Rev. Joseph Valentine Gerold purchased land for the church. Soon after, he borrowed $2,500 from Bishop Hugh Boyle and bought a small frame building that had been the original St. Bernard’s Church in Mt. Lebanon. After dismantling it, he moved it to Bethel Park, where it was re-erected at 2710 Ohio St., the current address of St. Valentine’s.
Originally a mission church of St. Ann’s Church in Castle Shannon, St. Valentine became an official parish on Sept. 10, 1931, with the Rev. Francis Pikutis as its first pastor. During a subsequent remodeling project, a fire broke out in the church on July 19, 1942, and destroyed it. The congregation then attended Mass in the Bethel Park Fire Hall until a second church was built with its first Mass offered on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1943.
On July 25, 1965, ground was broken for the third and current church. Part of the previous church was preserved as an administration building, and its 1942 cornerstone was also preserved. On Nov. 10, 1966, Monsignor Oliver Keefer blessed a new cornerstone and three large bells for the church bell tower.
The first Mass in the current church was offered at midnight on Christmas Eve 1966, and the official dedication took place on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 1967, with Bishop John J. Wright in attendance.
“Under the administration of Fr. Molka, pastoral associate Natalie O’Loughlin and music minister Daniel Kovacic, St. Valentine remains a very spirit-filled church,” Ashworth said. “The church is very vibrant, and it’s amazing to see how many people give of their time and talent to help it flourish.”